Career changes can be done smoothly if handled properly

2013-01-27T00:00:00Z Career changes can be done smoothly if handled properlyBy Bob Moulesong Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The average worker changes careers four times during his or her working life. Not changing jobs – changing careers.

Based on job opportunities, or the lack thereof, many people will consider starting the New Year off with a career change.

For those who are considering such a move, the first step is to do a personal inventory and decide why a career change sounds intriguing.

Is it because of boredom? Current job unhappiness? A career crossroads? Are skills being unused and going to waste? Are promotions no longer available?

Changing careers is one of the biggest decisions that a worker faces. There are many possible outcomes and consequences. So before a worker makes that jump to a new career field, they should consider these common career change mistakes. Try to avoid these situations as the transition from one career to the next is made.

· Do not make a career change without a solid plan. Probably the biggest mistake a worker can make is attempting to change careers without a detailed plan. A successful career change can often take months to accomplish, even with a solid strategy. Without one, a worker could end up adrift for an even longer period. Having a detailed action plan is essential to success. That plan should include strategies, finances, research, education, and training.

· Do not change careers because of hate for the current job. Don't make the mistake of confusing hating the job with hating the career. Take the time to analyze whether it's just the job, or the employer, or the manager that is the problem. A career change should be considered because it is the career or skills or work that is disliked.

· Do not change careers because of boredom. Being bored on the job is not the same as disliking a specific career. If boredom is an issue, an inventory must be done to determine whether it's the job or the employer or the career.

· Do not make a career change based solely on money or benefits. Certain career fields are very alluring because of the salary and other benefits they offer, but be very careful of switching careers because of all the dollar signs. Remember that a particular career makes more money, but disliking that career may cause other issues, such as stress-related problems. A career that's hot today could be gone tomorrow, so dig deeper.

· Do not change careers because of outside pressure. Don't let parents, significant others or anyone else influence a career choice. They don't have to live that career every day. Workers should strive to love what they do and earn a reasonable living. Switching careers because of outside pressure just to have a better career can be a trap. That kind of scenario leads to major resentment.

Conversely, there are steps that can help make the transition smoother. Workers should try to incorporate these steps into a career change plan.

· Do reconnect with all networking contacts. No one should attempt a career change alone. As soon as a new career field has been identified, begin developing new network contacts. Conduct informational interviews. Join industry associations. People in the network can provide inside information about job openings and can even help find a job. Networking is essential for all job candidates, but even more so for career changers.

· Do examine all of the possibilities before changing careers. Do not jump career fields without first conducting thorough research into all the possibilities, including career fields never considered. By conducting research into careers never considered, some find the dream career. Talk to network contacts, read career and job profiles, maybe even meet with a career management professional. The more information about career choices, the more successful a career change.

· Do make sure to have the necessary experience and education for a chosen career change. A career change must include a way to bridge the experience, skills, and education gaps between careers. While transferable skills are an important part of career change, it is often necessary to gain additional training and experience before someone can find a good job in a new career field. Research into the needs of additional training, education, or certifications.

· Do try to find time to volunteer, temp, intern, or consult in a new career field. Some refer to this as developing a parallel career. Try to spend time working in a new field before quitting a current job and searching for a full-time position in a new career field.

· Do make sure to update job search skills and techniques as part of a career change. If it's been a while since a worker was last on the job market, they need to take the time to polish job search skills, techniques, and tools. Review resume writing, networking, and polish interviewing skills. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to do all of the research and preparation to change careers if job search skills are out of date.

Workers considering a career change need to use the many resources available to make the transition a successful one. Careful thought and preparation can help the most aggressive plans manageable. The goal is to control the career change from beginning to end.

What if a career change involves moving? Thinking about relocating? Next week, JobsSunday examines the details of relocation.

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